With a home game in the first round of sub-state on the line, the Hillsboro boys battled through good times and bad at Kingman, but in the end got the job done with a gutty 49-45 win in last Tuesday’s regular-season finale.
The win enabled Hillsboro to secure the No. 3 seed this week with a 12-8 record.
As if to reinforce the importance of the game, the story line resembled a three-act drama.
Act 1: Idyllic start. Hillsboro came out of the gate impressively. The Trojans forced three straight turnovers on the defensive end, then cashed them in with three easy baskets on three laser-like passes for a quick 6-0 lead.
By the time Shaq Thiessen entered the game and scored almost immediately at the 4:00 mark, the Trojans led 11-0. A couple of three-point baskets by Brett Weinbrenner helped push the lead to 19-7 by the first break.
“The first quarter we did enough to win, and we got some big baskets by (Josh) Wiebe and Harry (Faber),” coach Darrel Knoll said. “And we did a nice job of running the offense when they went to the triangle. I was really pleased with that.”
To start the second quarter, Hillsboro went almost three minutes before scoring, foreshadowing trouble ahead. Even so, the Trojans maintained an 11-point lead by halftime, 30-19.
Act 2: Crisis. The Trojans missed four shots to start the third quarter, then frittered away five consecutive possessions on turnovers, then missed one more shot before Harry Faber finally scored in the paint off a great pass from Wiebe with 2:12 left in the period.
By then, Kingman had tied the game at 30 with an 11-0 run. At the end of the quarter, the game was deadlocked at 36.
“I didn’t think we came out without energy in the second half, but somehow we missed some shots and they got some things to go down for them that got them rolling,” Knoll said. “For a little stretch they couldn’t miss.”
Act 3: Redemption. The bad news was the Trojans made only two baskets in the final quarter. The good news was they made nine of 14 pressure free throws—and it proved to be enough to carry them to the four-point victory.
Wiebe, who played a lead role early with six points in the first 2:30 of the game, hit Hillsboro’s final two free throws with 2.6 seconds left and the Trojans clinging to a two-point lead.
Wiebe finished with 12 points, tying Weinbrenner for the team high.
Knoll said the win was important to build momentum heading into sub-state play.
“We’ve got to come ready to play an entire ball game like we’re capable of,” he said. “We need to play four solid quarters. That’s the biggest thing right now. When we’re sharp, we’re pretty good.
“Our sub-state’s one that anybody can win. I think (Hutch) Trinity is the one team that might be a little outmatched, but everybody else has a chance at it.”
Coming—As of press time, the Trojans still were scheduled to open sub-state play Tuesday by playing Lyons (10-10) for the fourth time this season. The winner of the game will play the winner of No. 2 Haven (12-8) and No. 7 Halstead (9-11).
For same-night reports for every Hillsboro game, call the Free Line at 947-3363 or go to hillsborofreepress.com.